Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Projects and Pictures

And the worst Blogger of the Year award goes to...Me!  I humbly accept.  Well, maybe I'm not the worst, but it's been almost six months since my last post.  Really?  I don't have any excuses.  I am guilty as charged.  Okay, now that I've got that confession out of the way, here I am again, ready to tackle blogging on a more consistent basis.  But I'm not making any promises!  Now, onto some Christmas projects:
Look at this darling, cardboard suitcase I found at Michael's:
Here's another view.  I bought it for the sole purpose of containing my son's fiancée's childhood Addy doll, and her clothing.
Unfortunately, it was about an inch too short, so Addy had to lay diagonally inside.  But I couldn't find anything bigger, so this had to do.  I do really love the Paris graphics on the outside, and the handle and buckles.
This is my future daughter-in-law's Addy:
She and her sister saved up and pooled their money in order to purchase her when they were children.  Addy was well loved and had seen better days, at least in the hair department!  When my daughter-in-law-to-be showed her to me, her hair was a huge rat's nest.  But that wasn't the worst part...oh, no...she and her sister had decided that Addy needed corn row braids, so there were about 30 teeny, tiny braids scattered throughout her hair.  I offered to clean her up and fix her hair...little did I know that it would take me over THREE hours just to unpick all those corn rows with the help of a sewing needle!  But I did it, followed by a hair wash and a gentle comb out of all the snarls and tangles.    I use Dr. Bronner's Lavender Liquid Castille soap to wash my dolls' hair.  I used to do a "Downy Dunk" on doll's hair that was severely dry and damaged, but not anymore.  I didn't feel like it was really helping.  So now I just wash, comb, add braid spray, and then use a hair straightener on the lowest setting.  Here is the braid spray I use:
I picked this up at my local Sally's Beauty supply store.  It was about $3.50, if I remember correctly.  I heard about this from another doll blog, and how it worked wonders on dolls' hair, so I gave it a shot.  This, along with the straightener, gives new life to damaged doll hair.  Here's a previous post where I restored the hair of a Gotz doll with a straightener:
So, after I fixed her hair, I figured that Addy was deserving of a brand new dress.  I used this pattern and did a combination of the brown and blue dresses in the top row:
I used the bodice from the blue dress, and the sleeves and collar from the brown dress.  I completely lined the bodice (rather than using a neck facing), and added an overskirt with lace edging to the underskirt.  Other than that, I followed the pattern and it turned out beautifully.  I didn't have to make any adjustments for fit, so I am very pleased about that.  The dress closes in back with snaps.
Here is a good view of Addy's hair, all combed out and conditioned with braid spray:
I also made her a pair of pantaloons, edged with tucks and lace:
I really wanted to make her the coat and bonnet, too, but I ran out of time.  So I promised my daughter-in-law-to-be that a set would be coming shortly.  I had ordered Addy's hairstyling set from the American Girl site when it was on sale a couple of weeks ago, so I included this in the gift.  The set includes a pretty hair clip, snood, and a braided head band.  I placed Addy, her new clothing, and the hairstyling set in the suitcase, along with a note to her "mother".  I think my daughter-in-law-to-be was very pleased with her gift.  I am just so happy that I was able to work on something doll related for one of my daughter-in-laws!
I also made a quilt for each of my other daughter-in-laws.  I copied a pattern from a quilt that my oldest daughter had made for herself a couple of years ago.  It came from a library book, so I can't quote the name of the pattern or the author.  Sorry!  It was simple pattern, but it seemed to take longer than normal because of all the ironing that had to be done after each new piece was added.  Here is one of the quilts, done up in purples, blues, and greens:
It is approximately 52"x72"
All the fabrics, except for the white sashing and flannel backing, came from my stash!
The cozy, flannel back
Wouldn't you know it?  I forgot to take a picture of the other quilt before giving it away!  But it is identical to the one above, only the colors are pinks, yellows, and greens, with a yellow flannel backing.  Both my daughter-in-laws seemed to love them. 
Here is quilt that technically was not a Christmas gift, but it was completed in November for my son's 23rd birthday back in July, so I am including it here.  He had been wanting a new quilt for quite some time, so when we spotted the Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat fabric on a trip to the fabric store, he and I both decided that it would be perfect!
The pattern is my own design of simple 8" blocks.
My son is color blind, so he has always gravitated to bold, bright, contrasts and shapes.  That is why I stuck with a black/white color theme, with a little color thrown in for contrast.
Again, cozy flannel for the back.  I also double batted this quilt so it is extremely warm and heavy!
And last, but not least, is this quilt I started for son #3.  I say "started" but not "completed" because right when I began quilting the layers together, my sewing machine made a HORRIBLE noise and quit working.  Just like that.  I was horrified.  I tried everything I could think of to try to get it up and running, but nothing would budge the hand wheel to move.  So here is a picture of the quilt front pinned to the batting and backing, minus the quilting:
10" blocks...another pattern I made up
Close up
The gray, flannel backing
I gave my son the quilt at Christmas, with the promise that I would finish it when I get my sewing machine back from the repair shop.  (Not for at least 4-6 weeks!)  How in the world am I supposed to survive that long without my beloved machine?  Luckily, I have a back-up machine that used to belong to my mother.  It can't do as much and doesn't have a walking foot, so I am limited with what I can do with it.  Plus, it needs a tune up also--try as I might, I just can't get the thread tension to behave.  'Sigh'.  It's going to be a long, 4-6 weeks.
Next up on my sewing agenda:  a new quilt made with a Cicely Mary Barker Fairy Panel for my youngest daughter, and the coat and bonnet set from the above mentioned Simplicity pattern.  We'll see how my substitute machine behaves.
And now, for some random family pictures:
My kids, on Christmas Eve
Adding in the daughters-in-law, the fiancée, and the grandchild:
Our entire family on Christmas Day, including a set of grandparents:
My youngest was able to wear her Christmas dress from last year.  Yay!
Adorable Grandson
Every house needs a small child at Christmas.  It just makes the holiday so much better!

His daddy got the bright idea of placing his son in an American Girl doll box...we all had a good laugh over that one!
My daughter-in-law-to-be with her Addy doll, and my youngest with the Kit doll she received!  Kit was bought second hand from a doll club friend, and she also came with her typewriter, waffle maker, lunch box, and stationary set.  So cute!  I will share photos in another post soon.
Hope your Christmas was wonderful!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recent Sewing Projects

Yes, I've been sewing!  I've had lots of projects lately, from sewing something for myself, to sewing things for others.  First up:
The Claire Cami Dress pattern from Sew Serendipity.  I've made it once before, in a longer version, but this time I decided to make a shorter version for summer.
I already had all the fabrics in my stash, so I didn't have to go out and buy anything!  It's hard to tell in the photos, but the fabric is light blue with delicate little roses scattered across it.  I used a pink floral for the hem band and waist tie, and a green print for the waistband and hem ruffle.
It's a simple dress to sew and goes together very quickly.  No zipper or button openings--just slide it over your head and adjust the waist ties to fit.
I love this dress!  I get compliments on it every time I wear it.  I would highly recommend this pattern if you are looking for something easy and summery to wear this season.
Next on the list:  A friend asked if I could sew a crib skirt, diaper stacker, and valance for her new grandbaby.  She gave me the fabric, and this is what resulted:
Diaper stacker--how adorable is this?  I love the pink elephant fabric and coordinating brown dots.  My friend bought these fabrics at JoAnn's, if you're curious.  I used a commercial pattern for this (maybe Simplicity?), but I forgot to write it down and have since returned it to my friend.
The crib skirt--my, oh my, was there a lot of ruffling involved on this project!  Since my friend didn't know which side of the baby's crib would be showing, we decided to attach a ruffled skirt along each side of the mattress base fabric.  Easy project, but it took FOREVER to gather and stitch all those ruffles!
Here is a better view of it lying flat on the ground.
Matching valance.  The easiest piece of the project to sew, but still took a while because of the amount of fabric involved.  The window it is intended for is six feet wide, which meant that the valance had to be twelve feet wide!  It is backed with white fabric to give it a better drape and protection from fading.  The 1 1/2" casing runs about 2 1/2" below the header.
Remember this sweet, little Bye-lo baby which I sewed a bonnet for last year?  The owner wanted me to make her a slip from an old hankie with a pretty, tatted lace edging.
Another simple project.  Just a front and a back, gathered to a waistband.  The sides are French seamed, and the waistband lining is sewn down by hand over the raw edges.
The back has a placket, and fastens with a hook & eye closure.  Isn't that tatting beautiful?
I picked this pattern up at a local JoAnn's sale, and have since started making the doll's dress.  I plan on making SIX of them, since I have six, 18" dolls I want to list on Ebay, and they are currently standing around in their birthday suits.  I think they'll sell better with a cute dress, so that is what I hope to accomplish in the next day or so.  The little girl's dress is awfully sweet, too--that may be a future project for my Sophie.
Doesn't this reprint of a vintage Simplicity pattern just make your teeth hurt, it's so sweet?!  Since I have a grandson, I will be making view B, in the bottom right hand corner.  The red dalmation fabric just cried out to be paired with the black plaid, don't you think?  My grandbaby will be visiting this weekend, so I hope to get to this one soon!  And if it turns out as cute as I think it will, then I may make the girl's version with all the ruffles on the bum, just to put away and keep for a future grand-daughter.  Or give as a shower gift.
And last, but not least, I had my doll club meeting today, and the hostess had this lovely painting on her wall which I couldn't stop drooling over:
I couldn't figure out the artist's name, but I believe it was painted in the 1850's-1860's.  How gorgeous is that dress?  I would love to try recreating this for a doll.
So much fabric, so little time...!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Engel Puppen Dolls

The latest craze in the doll world seems to be collecting "ball-jointed" dolls.  These are dolls that generally have joints in all the regular places, along with extra joints in the places that most run-of-the-mill dolls don't have, such as the knees, elbows, wrists, ankles, etc.  These joints allow the dolls to be posed in more natural, human-type positions.  Well, I have multi-jointed dolls in my collection that were made long before these types of dolls became popular.  Let me introduce a couple of them, made by the Engel Puppen doll company of Germany:
The little Bavarian boy is named "Bernard", and he was a limited edition.  I'm not sure what the little girl was originally called, but she has the "Dorothea" face mold, so perhaps that is also her name.  These dolls stand about 17" tall and have full vinyl, articulated bodies.
Bernard has sleeping, brown eyes and a lovely, blond wig made of high-quality Kanekalon.
Dorothea has sleeping brown eyes, also, and a gorgeous wig styled in snail braids.  I am tempted to take her braids down sometime, but the style is just so cute that I haven't done it yet.
Bernard is dressed like a dapper little fellow.
Dorothea has a sweet, German style dress and lace trimmed bloomers.  These are nicely sewn outfits made from quality fabrics.  They have snap closures instead Velcro.
I undressed Bernard so you could see the body construction.  Both dolls have the same style body.  As you can see, he has hinged joints at both his elbows and knees.  His ankles and wrists have rotating joints, and he can swivel at two different places in his torso.  Amazing!
He can sit just like a little human, crossing his legs and ankles.
He looks a little funny from behind, since his legs are attached more at the front of his body.
Both dolls are marked "Engel-Puppe" in raised letters on the back of their necks.  These particular jointed dolls are a very small part of what the Engel Puppen Doll company currently offers.  Most of their dolls have soft, cloth bodies with vinyl limbs.  You can view the current Engel Puppen catalog here:    The website has a detailed account of the company's history, if you want to know more.  They are not sold in the US, but I managed to get Bernard from Ebay and Dorothea at a local doll show for about a tenth of what they cost brand new!
An interesting fact about Engel Puppen is that it is the oldest doll factory still making dolls in Germany--over 100 years!  Another interesting side note:  Both Disneyland and Disneyworld used to sell Engel Puppen dolls in Geppetto's Toy shop.  You could even have a doll customized with the wig and outfit of your choice!  I remember seeing these dolls when I visited Disneyland as a little girl, but the price tag of over $100 may as well have been a million--there was no way I could have ever afforded one.  But, oh, did I love to go look at them!  I wish I could go back in time and tell my little 8-year-old self that someday I would own not only one, but TWO of these precious dolls.
I really like these two.  They fit in nicely with my other 18" type dolls, but their full-vinyl bodies and multi jointing make them a little different.  If you ever come across one for a decent price, I'd recommend buying it.  They are beautiful dolls, made with the high-quality standards for which German dolls are known.
And by the way, in case you're wondering, "Engel Puppen" translated from German means "Angel Dolls".    Appropriate, I think, since their faces strike me as very sweet and angelic.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Martha Chase Dolls

At my last doll club meeting, we studied the antique dolls made by Martha Chase.  Here is the group of Chases that is owned by various members of our club:
Aren't they sweet?  Martha Chase was an entrepreneurial woman of the late 1800's who decided that little girls needed a doll that was not only unbreakable, but also washable.  She designed and patented a cloth doll with a molded, cloth face with the features painted in oils.  Her first dolls were made in 1889, and the company continued to make dolls all the way into the 1970's.  Of course, the later dolls were made of materials other than cloth, and did not have the appeal of the earlier dolls, so I won't be talking about those.
My little Chase is on the left.
There's something so appealing about their sweet expressions.  So many of the dolls on toy store shelves today have cartoon features or vacant stares--the doll manufactures of today could learn a thing or two from these old beauties, I think.
Besides my own, this little cutie in pink is my very favorite.  She is owned by my good friend Louise, and comes in the smaller, desirable, 12" size.  Isn't she just the cutest?  The smallest size made was 8", but I think it must be very rare since nobody in my club has ever seen one.  I recently saw a very large one on Ebay that stood 29" tall.
My little cutie stands 16" tall, but she is mostly content to sit in the lap of a larger doll.  Her brown eyes are a little more rare (more Chase dolls were made with blue eyes).  Early Chase dolls are jointed at the hips, knees, shoulders, and elbows, making them very poseable.  They usually have a body stamp identifying them, but many times, as in the case of my doll, it has worn off.  However, there is no mistaking a Chase doll once you recognize them.
My large, French, papier mache doll is content to babysit my little Chase.  She does a good job, making sure baby doesn't tumble off the dresser!
I love so many of the old cloth, wax, and papier mache dolls.  In this day and age where everything is mass produced with cheap materials, they represent such a neat part of history and the women who made them with their own hands.